— By GREG WEBB
AUSTIN — Aledo third baseman Riley Sartain hit a base-clearing double in the first inning of the Class 4A State Softball Semifinal, giving Aledo a lead it would hold until the sixth frame. The match at the University of Texas' McCombs Field provided plenty of drama in the sixth, after a pitching set in for the previous four innings.
Karina Rocha's 2-run homer capped the scoring for Hays in the sixth, with the Lady Rebels scoring four to take a 5-4 lead over Aledo.
Aledo, who was man-handled by Hays in last year's semifinal, was not to be denied on this day. Helped along by Rebel miscues, the Ladycats took back the lead in the bottom half and held on to advance to the state final on Saturday.
"Everything has felt very different from last year," said Lemons of the girls' demeanor at the state tourney." The minute we had our last practice before heading down here, it was just a different atmosphere.
"The way the girls rebounded after losing the lead late in the game is just a sign of how much they have matured. Having been here before helped tremendously and the girls responded when they needed to."
Aledo will face Ennis in the State Championship match on Saturday. The Lady Lions had a close game themselves in the early game of the day, beating Barbers Hill, 8-7.
"We played Ennis early in the season in a tournament," said Lemons, "But that was nearly a season ago. We're both very different teams.
"This was a good win today, but there's one more to go."